It’s anyone’s guess when — or if — baseball will be played this season due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Steven Matz says he believes the Mets will still be able to contend, even after the loss of Noah Syndergaard to Tommy John surgery.
“It’s hard to replace a guy like Noah,’’ Matz said by phone Friday. “It’s tough for him and for us, but we have a team that we believe has depth and can have guys step up behind him. Noah is a special pitcher, but we still feel confident as a group.”
Syndergaard’s Tommy John surgery went as expected Thursday, the Mets confirmed Friday. The right-hander will be out 12-15 months, which will sideline him for all of whatever part — if any — is played of the 2020 season and at least through the beginning of next year.
That makes Matz an even more important part of the staff after he was seen as battling for the final spot in the starting rotation before spring training was canceled and the regular season put on hold indefinitely because of the coronavirus.
The additions of Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello in the offseason briefly gave the Mets one more starting pitcher than they needed for a five-man rotation. Now, all three will start.
Next up would likely be left-hander David Peterson, the organization’s first-round draft pick from 2017 who is expected to begin the season at Triple-A Syracuse. Other potential starting options include Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, but team officials have indicated their preference is to keep both right-handers in the bullpen.
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In the meantime, Matz is certain Syndergaard will recover from this setback.
“Knowing what a hard worker he is and how much time and effort he puts into staying healthy, it’s unfortunate it happened, but it’s something that’s out of your control,’’ Matz said. “I know the kind of worker he is and he’s gonna come out on the other end of this better than before.’’
Syndergaard underwent the procedure in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Sources told The Post’s Mike Puma that Syndergaard was examined by Dr. David Altchek and received a second opinion from Dr. Neal El Attrache, and the surgery fit necessary guidelines for essential procedures at a time most have been postponed to preserve resources following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Syndergaard, according to general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, had discomfort in his elbow before spring training was suspended two weeks ago.
The 27-year-old Syndergaard went 10-8 with a 4.28 ERA in 32 starts last season. He is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2021 season, even if the upcoming year is wiped out.
Syndergaard is the fifth member of the team’s much-hyped big five — which once included Matz, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler — to undergo Tommy John surgery.
And it’s just the latest injury for Syndergaard, who missed most of 2017 with a torn right lat, which occurred after he had ignored the recommendation of then-GM Sandy Alderson to undergo an MRI exam on his right shoulder.